Since the outbreak of the Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, experts have hinted at the possibility of the leakage of the deadly virus from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV). Although leftist media organisations such as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post were quick to dismiss it as a ‘racist conspiracy theory‘, the superlative work done by DRASTIC in this regard has now forced even the US government to take cognisance of the matter.
DRASTIC, abbreviation for Decentralized Radical Autonomous Search Team Investigating COVID-19, is a group of individuals interested in finding the true origins of the Wuhan Coronavirus. They are not journalists or spies but engineers, entrepreneurs and individuals across various disciplines. The group works anonymously, unearths never-seen-before documents from the internet and puts them out in the public domain. Although the members have limited resources, they are motivated by curiosity and zeal to spend days in pursuit of the truth.
One key member of the group is an Indian man from Kolkata in West Bengal. He goes by the pseudonym of ‘The Seeker.’
In an email to Newsweek, he informed that he had a career in architecture, painting and filmmaking. Often, he would dig up the web to research on topics that interested him. The Seeker would then post his findings on Reddit, which had earned him 7,50,000 karma points. Initially, he had bought into the mainstream media narrative that the virus had infected humans from animals at the infamous wet markets in Wuhan.
He had then tweeted, “Nobody wants to see their parents or grandma and grandpa die over a stupid virus from an exotic animal market.” But soon, he became skeptical of the conventional narrative and began interacting with individuals who had begun to rip it apart. This made ‘The Seeker’ curious about the virus and its origins. He stumbled upon a Medium post written by Canadian entrepreneur Yuri Deigin in which he discussed about a virus RaTG13. The said virus was revealed to the world by Wuhan Institute of Virology researcher Shi Zhengli.
Deigin found that RaTG13 virus had a similar genetic makeup to SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes Covid-19. This further intrigued ‘The Seeker’, who then posted it on his Reddit account. His handle was permanently terminated from the social media site. The censorship by Reddit further prompted him to find like-minded individuals in Twitter groups to further explore the topic. In no time, The Seeker was addicted to the idea of discovering the mystery behind the deadly Wuhan Coronavirus.
The Seeker was motivated by civic responsibility
It was a sense of social responsibility, besides the obvious curiosity, that led him to this mission. “COVID has taken the lives of countless people and devastated so many others. But it has also left so many clues that haven’t been followed up. Humanity deserves answers,” he had emphasised. The Seeker was convinced that the mystery behind the Wuhan Coronavirus lay in the RaTG13 virus. He and other members of the DRASTIC began crawling research papers of Wuhan Institute of Virology on the internet.
The genetic code of RaTG13 matched another genetic code posted by Shi Zhengli years ago. DRASTIC determined that the virus originated in a mineshaft in Mojiang County in the Yunnan Province of China in 2012. The team found that 3 out of six miners had died while three of them developed pneumonia. The team was left wondering whether this was a precursor to the pandemic. Although Shi Zhengli had accepted that she worked in the said mineshaft but claimed that the 3 miners died due to fungal infection.
How the Wuhan lab leak theory gained credence?
Using his online research skills, The Seeker found CNKI, which is a huge database of Chinese academic journals and theses. Fueled by tea and occasional arcade games, he scrolled through the database for days until he struck gold. The Seeker found a 60-page thesis authored by a student at Kunming Medical University in 2013. Titled, “The Analysis of 6 Patients with Severe Pneumonia Caused by Unknown Viruses,” the paper found that the miners had died of SARS-like Coronavirus. He shared it on Twitter on May 19, 2020.
Key revelations by The Seeker
After it had become public, the Chinese authorities swung into action and limited the access control to ensure that it was never found again. Interestingly, The Seeker also found that the corporate media ignored the story when the miners had died of SARS-like infection in 2012. “The general lack of interest in facts or reason surprised me. And it still perplexes me that even with all their resources, the corporate investigative media is lagging terribly,” he noted.
He worked in close association a Madrid based data scientist named Francisco de Asis de Ribera. The Seeker found new pieces of the Coronavirus puzzle while Ribera fitted the pieces together. He discovered detailed plans of Wuhan Institute of Virology to test the infectivity of SARA-like viruses in lab animals and human cells, undergo cross-species mutation and genetic recombination of the viruses. He also stumbled upon a database hosted by the Ministry of Science and Technology in China. The Seeker found that the theses were supervised by Shi Zhengli herself.
He found that the Wuhan Institute of Virology never bought the argument that the three miners had died of a fungal infection, as espoused by Shi Zhengli. The researchers, working at the institute, were concerned about a viral outbreak and thus tested the blood of neighbouring villagers and obtained genetic sequences of 8 other SARS-like viruses from the mine. DRASTIC found that China had the information with them in advance but instead chose to conceal it and let people die. The Seeker concluded, “I no longer see science as an exclusive domain. Everyone can make a difference.”